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Rediff.com  » Business » Gustav Baldauf named Air India COO

Gustav Baldauf named Air India COO

Last updated on: April 07, 2010 03:41 IST

The National Aviation Company Ltd, which runs Air India, today named Gustav Baldauf as its chief operating officer.

"Among the four interviewed, Gustav Baldauf has been shortlisted. I have not yet talked to him, but he will be joining the airline in a month's time," Air India's Chairman & Managing Director Arvind Jadhav said after the board meeting.

Baldauf has over 25 years of experience in the aviation industry and is with Austrian Airlines as its executive vice-president (flight operations). He also worked with Jet Airways as its vice-president (flight operations).

The new Air India board, with four independent members, also asked the management to prepare and submit a turnaround plan in 30 days. The plan would be reviewed and sent to employees for their approval. Jadhav also said the board had decided to take a relook at earlier plans made to bail the airline out and a fresh outlook was expected.

The four independent board members are Mahindra & Mahindra Managing Director Anand Mahindra, Ficci (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) General Secretary Amit Mitra, industrialist Harsh Neotia and Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Fali H Major. They have a tenure of three years.

The board also decided to form four committees to look into human resource, finance, audit and strategic issues. The strategic committee will meet shortly.

"The strategic committee will have all the four independent directors as members," Jadhav announced at a press conference in Mumbai. While the finance and audit committees would comprise Mahindra and Neotia, the human resources committee would comprise Mitra and Major, Jadhav said.

The board stressed the need for clear plans, accountable people, and to set milestones and act accordingly. It also approved the passenger services system contract to the SITA. The SITA has been given the job to integrate the ticketing systems of the erstwhile Indian Airlines and the erstwhile Air India, a pre-requisite for the airline to join the Star Alliance network, the respected global airline grouping.

"An empowered committee to find an information technology solution for the maintenance, repair and overhaul units will give its report in 15 days," Jadhav said.

Air India's losses are expected to go up by another Rs 5,000 crore in 2010-11. It was partly bailed out by the government through a Rs 800-crore equity infusion in the previous financial year. Another equity infusion of Rs 1,200-crore is expected during this financial year.

The cash-strapped carrier has over Rs 16,000 crore working capital borrowings on its balance sheet. Borrowings rose sharply from Rs 6,550 crore in November 2007 to Rs 15,241 crore in June 2009, mainly on account of interest payments on acquisition of aircraft.
BS Reporter in Mumbai
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